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as the Providence Convention Center and Hotel. He visited Stonington while working on a project and fell in love, both with the area and with a TV anchorwoman who would become his wife. Now, he focuses on coastal residential design, a specialty many architects avoid because it requires close collaboration with the client. His company designs both the exterior and the interior. “Some people really don’t like the idea of having to shop around for different people to do the design in the luxury home,” McKinley said. “Usually the interior takes just as long or longer to do as the outside.” Because of his expertise and unified design process, McKinley says that his firm usually gets the most difficult, complicated jobs. “No one ever comes to us and says, ‘We want a simple house, located there.’” Not only are the projects inherently complex, but coastal areas present unique challenges such as newer zoning, environmental restrictions, storm-worthy structural design, aesthetic requirements, and, in a place such as Watch Hill, historic integrity. McKinley said that the owner of the Watch Hill house “wasn’t sure if we could keep the original building. And neither was I at first.” McKinley knew that if they had torn the house down, to meet modern code, the new home in its place would have been only two stories, instead of the original three. And it would have lost some of its magnificent ocean views. But they were able to save the house.

not be in the dining room. But from that point, the design moved with the family.” Technically, a shingle home describes only the home’s exterior siding. But by tradition, shinglestyle homes are informal and simple, with few windows and asymmetrical roof lines.The shingle style is a surface style that has been applied to Victorian, colonial, or other major architectural styles. Prominent features include deep recessed porches, eyebrow windows, diamond shingles, and asymmetrical informality. “There’s a sort of ramble and almost historical development within the house.  It’s a very forgiving process,” McKinley explains. But while everyone is pleased with how the house turned out, it worked because they had plenty of time and leeway. “It was not a project for the faint of heart,” McKinley says.

OCEANFRONT The large deck off the master bedroom offers magnificent views of Block Island Sound and also provides shade to the patio below. From the all-white beach-house bathroom there are dramatic ocean views from a pair of Marvin windows (marvin. com) above the Kohler pedestal sink (

The owner had few set notions about what to do with it. He wanted a wing added. He wanted to modernize the kitchen, some bedrooms and bathrooms. And he rejected the “great room” concept.“We were actually able to incorporate the spirit of the (floor) plan,” McKinley said. “It is an old-fashioned Victorian plan. Instead of great rooms and big vistas, there are several parlors and rooms the kids could go to and have dinner and

FALL 2011




Ebb & Flow


Ebb & Flow